Sunday 30 December 2012

Syria: A rose grows from the concrete

Nada... work
She is a Syrian medic.
Her first name is Nada  (Arabic for dew).
Her surname is withheld for security reasons.
At the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in mid-March 2011, she was in her sixth year of study and clinical work at Damascus University’ School of Medicine to become an MD or doctor.
As the military, security and paramilitary forces of President Bashar al-Assad intensified their brutal repression of demonstrators, activists and insurgents, Nada stayed home in Zamalka, a town of about 50,000 in Ghota just east of the capital’s neighborhood of Jobar.
Regime forces then started killing and abducting wounded members of the opposition from hospitals and clinics.
Video footage leaked from a military hospital in Homs earlier this year showed wounded patients blindfolded and shackled to their beds by medical staff loyal to the regime.
Opposition forces responded by gradually developing their own makeshift medical facilities, which is when Nada was enlisted into the underground care network from her home in Zamalka,
She and many other Syrian medics now face an uphill struggle to attend to the mounting casualties of the war.
To cope with the rush of casualties, Nada has just set up a “field hospital” that she walks you through in the video below.
Nada and the other Syrian medics manning field hospitals or makeshift frontline clinics across the most dangerous parts of the country to help the wounded face summary execution by Assad forces. The regime perceives them as prolonging the lives of “terrorists.”
Three Aleppo University students who helped treat demonstrators shot by regime forces were arrested at a checkpoint in mid-June. Their mutilated and charred bodies were found in a burned car a week later.
For the benefit of non-Arabic readers of this post, here is a translation of how Nada introduces her underground medical premises:

These [premises] offset my efforts and those of my team of seven volunteers.
As you notice, we get the medical supplies and display them this way in order to be able to pick what we need as quickly as possible.
The section we’re entering here is where we receive the wounded. It consists of a chair and first-aid trolleys with a range of medical supplies covering first aid and primary care requirements. Modest contributions coming from people very close to us paid for them.
On this side, I have my “field hospital,” which is the section where I perform my surgical procedures. It’s nothing more than an adequate Operating Room, simple but large at the same time. It has basic equipment but ample instruments.
I trace back my experience and the work I am doing to my earlier years, when I was supposed to earn a living in order to continue my studies.
I have served as assistant surgeon at more than one hospital around the country. That’s how I gained my experience.
Since the beginning of the revolution, my obsession was to commit 24 hours a day to the young men of the Free Syrian Army.
In Zamalka, we had to cope at one point with 270 martyrs and 400 wounded.
It was a big miracle for us to move from one place to another to treat the wounded.
We got to the stage where we had to carry this humble suitcase [of medical supplies] from one roof to another. Checkpoints were everywhere in Zamalka.
We used to carry suitcases from one roof to the other and through concrete walls or homes to the next. We cut through concrete walls and smashed windows to get through with our suitcases.
I was staying at home in the early days of the revolution. They [insurgents] came by and told me someone was injured. The wounded man was lying on the street in the gunsight of a sniper. The sniper would even take aim at a cat if it came near.
I was forced to crawl from one highway to another to avoid the sniper and reach the wounded. I operated on his chest on the pavement.
I felt elated later, when I saw him carrying his firearm and heading back to the front.
حَسْبُنَا اللّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ or “Allah is sufficient for us. He is the best guardian.”
The problem for us medics is not whether this or that person backs the regime. The predicament is there are people who need our help.